When I joined Hallmark Cards in the 80’s, I was excited. I felt I had landed a fun job. I mean, who doesn’t like “greeting cards”? I had spent many hours standing in card aisles, laughing at funny cards with snappy punch lines or getting emotional at the sappy ones. I loved cards. Now I was going to get paid for reading these cards. As it turned out, I would soon discover that this was a lot more work than just laughing in the card aisle.
Shortly after joining Hallmark, I decided I wanted to be Salesperson of the Year in my division. I knew this wouldn’t be easy, but I really wanted it. I felt I was a good salesperson and I like a challenge. It was a big goal; however, it had been done before so why couldn’t I do it? I received my annual quota and it was a big number. An eye-popping big number! It gave me pause, yet I was undaunted and determined to meet my goal. I divided that number by the weeks of work and then by the number of days. Next, I wrote down my number and posted it in my office where I saw it every day. My big goal was now in a smaller manageable number. Every day, I pressed toward reaching my daily number knowing if I hit my daily number, I would make it. I prayed about my progress. I prayed for strength and favor. There were times when I thought I might quit, but I didn’t. I evaluated my progress weekly, without fail. I talked to my boss and he encouraged me. I talked to other salespeople and learned how they overcame objections because, of course, there was opposition to my progress – both internal and external. Still, I pressed ahead. I visualized receiving that Award. The closer I got the more I wanted it. I kept reviewing my numbers and guess what? I did it. Accepting the Salesperson of the Year Award at a National Conference felt a little like a dream. I remember what I was wearing all those years ago. A pale pink linen suite. I looked sharp, I felt proud of myself. Reaching goals gives us a great feeling of accomplishment. Without even realizing it, I had used what I now know is a tried-and-true formula to reaching goals.
Setting goals is the easy part. It doesn’t take a lot of energy or effort to simply say what you want to accomplish. However, in order to get where you want to go and achieve what you want to achieve, you must put limits on yourself, your time, your personal desires and on the people who clamor for your time and attention. Thousands of people do it every year under the name New Year’s resolutions. The problem is, we are no different now than we were last year – only a few weeks ago. So reaching goals really isn’t all that easy. It is doable, but It requires more from us than just making a statement or possessing a desire to be different, thinner, more successful, acquire a better job, have more meaningful relationships or you fill in the blank. We desire to be all that we can be but we get in our own way.
In How People Grow (Drs. Cloud & Townsend) tell us “God designed spiritual growth to be an active process”. The same can be said for all growth – personal, professional or spiritual. We must take an active role. It’s important that we identify what we want and then get busy toward that end. Always seeking God and his wisdom and then be about the business of accomplishing that which we know will make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.
“Freedom that is unlimited causes a lack of focus. Freedom within boundaries, within a structure is real freedom. You become all that you can be within that space”. Dr. Henry Cloud (The One Life Solution, page 149) What does this quote have to do with reaching goals? We have the freedom to choose to do nothing, do what we have always done or do something of value and importance. Reaching goals requires focus and structure and that is where you find real freedom to be all that you can be.
Recent statistics have shown that only 8 percent of people who make New Year’s Resolutions accomplish these goals. (University of Scranton study) Said another way, that’s 92% who don’t reach their goals. Which number do you find yourself in? The 8% who do or the 92% who don’t? According to Dr. Cloud, people who pursue their goals are happier people (The Law of Happiness, Happy People Pursue Goals, page 61 -73) Yet, if you are like many people, the 92% is where you find yourself year after year. My guess is you want to be in that 8%. In reaching goals we experience a real sense of accomplishment, a feeling of happiness. You can be that person even if you aren’t right now; you have the power to significantly change your future. You are the only one who can change your future so why not make 2020 your year to achieve what you really want? Become all that you can be. Be the very best you can be. It’s up to you but you can’t simply “will power” your way to success or happiness. You need something more.
According to Dr. Cloud, it’s important to grab onto the goals that immediately jump out of our heart. They must be our own goals, not something someone else want for you. You may be out of touch with yourself and need to do some digging to find what is really important to you, but It’s buried in there. It’s up to you to find it. After all, this is your life! Here are a few things to keep in mind and that I have found help me achieve my goals:
- Choose goals that fit your strengths and gifts. What are you good at that you want more of?
- Make sure your goal is realistic. If it’s been done before you have a good chance of doing it too.
- Write your goals out. This will keep these in the forefront of your mind. You are 42% more likely to reach a goal simply by writing it down and reviewing it. (Dr. Gail Matthews, psychology professor research paper, the act of writing taps into both sides of our brain sending your consciousness a signal that say, “I want this and I mean it”).
- Break your goals down into smaller steps. What steps will be needed to get to the bigger goal. These steps make your goal manageable and achievable.
- Add structure. Set aside regular time to work toward your goal. Not when you have time, make time.
- Add support to your goal. Don’t try to do it by yourself. You will need other people for encouragement, problem solving and accountability. If you are a procrastinator, you will require help extra from others. Without this component we can easily slip into our old unhelpful ways.
- Review your progress weekly. Keep your goal and progress in front of you.
- Visualize what you will feel like when you achieve your goal. (Play the Movie, Dr. Henry Cloud, 9 Things You Must Simply Do)
What’s the thing you desire for yourself in 2020 and beyond? Implement these steps and see what you can do. Even if you don’t get there you will get a heck of a lot closer than you would have without making the effort. Do it for yourself! Have fun in the process. I think you will be happier and who doesn’t want that?
Here’s to a great 2020! Onward!